GoPro Underwater Video Guide For Beginners

GoPro Underwater Video Guide

GoPro cameras have revolutionised photography and underwater video is no different. GoPro cameras have been around for quite a while but their use in underwater videography has been one of the best things to have happened to both amateurs and professionals alike.

Why are GoPros Good for Underwater Videos?

GoPro cameras are incredibly compact, which makes it easier to carry these lightweight cameras underwater.

  • The drag beneath the water surface is tremendously reduced when you carry a camera as light as a feather.
  • Aside from their portability, some makes of GoPro are built waterproof, which means they can be carried underwater without a dedicated underwater housing up to a certain depth.
  • GoPros are equipped with wide-angle lenses, which are vital for underwater video work since they allow the videographer to get in as close to the subject as possible.
  • GoPros also offer video multiple frame rates that are a great feature for underwater videographers seeking to shoot slow motion, for example.
  • Many of these cameras also have an LCD display that provides a live preview of the footage being shot.
  • The GoPros such as HERO5 Black and Session, HERO4 Session, and HERO3 all come with ProTunes, which allows adjustments in sharpness, white-balance, colour, etc and is perfect for adjusting the captured video during post production.

Are all GoPros waterproof?

What differentiates GoPros from other traditional camera makes is the fact that the GoPro is designed to be used in harsh environments, making them ideal for underwater use.

  • The cameras HD HERO Original, HERO2, and HERO3 all come with a casing that is waterproof up to a depth of about 60 meters.
  • The new HERO5 (both Black and Session edition) is waterproof without requiring any external accessory at all up to a depth of about 10 meters.
  • Divers who need to go deeper with their HERO6 Black can use the Super Suit underwater housing with which you one could dive to depths up to 60 meters.

Which GoPro should I get? Which is the best GoPro for Scuba Diving?

Which GoPro will serve you best is largely dependent on the purpose of buying. Ask yourself: what bitrate and quality would you be shooting on? What features do you need?

  • If you’re a scuba diver, you will frequently dive to deeper depths and a GoPro that has a higher depth rating, either by itself or with a housing will probably be the best buy.
  • The GoPro HERO6 Black, when equipped with a Super Suit, features a depth rating of 60 meters (196 feet) which makes it ideal for underwater videographers. The camera by itself, without any housing, can be taken up to 10 meters under water.
  • You can also go for the HERO3 and HERO4 or even the HERO instead if you do not need the advanced features of HERO5. It all depends on the needs and professional aspirations of the scuba diver.
  • A diver who needs the best in quality with stabilised video at higher bitrates and at 4K resolution would prefer the HERO5. The camera even supports geotagging to capture GPS data in the shots, a handy useful feature.
  • If you need 4K but without the other features of the HERO5 (such as geotagging), you can go for the HERO4.
  • If you wish to have manual exposure controls, you should prefer the HERO5 since it provides manual control of shutter speed.

How to start shooting underwater video with a GoPro?

Your underwater video adventure begins with the little GoPro.

  • To begin shooting underwater video with a GoPro, place the battery inside the camera. Make sure you have enough batteries with you should you plan to dive for a longer time.
  • Remember to change the GoPro battery in the period between the dives.
  • Place the camera within the underwater housing. Take care not to have any sand, dust or hair on the O-ring or the notch. If the seal remains dirty, water will immediately flood the camera and destroy it.
  • Once you hold the side mode button on your HERO5 for about 2 seconds and release it, the camera would power on. You can then immediately press the top button to begin recording!
  • Point your GoPro towards the subject and keep shooting.

What are the best GoPro settings for underwater video?

There are certain GoPro settings that you can modify to enhance your underwater video experience manifold.

  • GoPros turn off their LCD screen periodically irrespective of whether the camera is recording video or not.
  • This functionality has been programmed to prevent unnecessary battery drain. Make sure you change this setting based on your personal preference by adjusting this turn-off time in the settings.
  • Ensure that your GoPro is set to record at the correct frame rate and resolution. You can choose between shooting at Full High Definition (1080p) or 4K, at 30 frames per second or 60 frames per second, or go with even higher frame rates for super slow motion work.

How do you set it up? How to use a GoPro underwater?

Setting up your GoPro with all accessories is important to get the best results when filming video underwater. Follow the useful tips outlined below:

  • Secure the GoPro firmly inside the housing if you own a HERO3, HERO4 or plan to take your HERO5 deep underwater.
  • A video light can also be used with a GoPro to add colour and contrast to the underwater environment. The light will be mounted on the ends of the handles of the housing or to the arm extensions.
  • You will be able to see a live preview of the scene being shot on the built-in LCD screen of the HERO4 Silver or the HERO5 Black. If you own a GoPro HERO3, you can either film without the screen or purchase a GoPro LCD Touch BacPac.

GoPro tips for Beginners

When you’re just starting out with underwater videography using a GoPro, the following useful tips will come in handy:

  • Try to get as close as possible to your subject. This would reduce the distance the light bouncing off from the subject will have to travel before registering on your camera sensor, making it less colour deprived.
  • Remember to hold the camera steady when you shoot. The lesser the shakes, the better.
  • When panning the camera, remember to keep a steady, slow pace of motion.
  • Before buying a memory card for use with your GoPro, make sure you check the listing of the memory cards recommended for use with your camera by GoPro.
  • Plan your dive beforehand and use the appropriate colour correction filters based on the depth of the dive. These filters will bring back the vibrant colours of the underwater landscapes.
  • Avoid shooting when your subject is at a distance lower than 12 inches from the GoPro since this is the minimum focusing distance of the camera. A subject closer than this will be registered blurry in the memory, so watch out!

How to edit GoPro Underwater Video

Once you’re done filming with your GoPro, the next step is getting your footage off the camera and making some edits to make your recording shine and stand out.

How to get videos off GoPro

  • Connect your GoPro camera to the PC/Mac using the supplied USB cable.
  • Make sure you have the GoPro App installed on your computer. Power on the camera and wait for it to be detected by the App.
  • The camera will be listed under the Device Window. Select the appropriate location where you want the footage to be imported to in the ‘Import Files To’ section.
  • Click on the ‘Import Files’ button to begin importing the footage from the camera.
  • When you are prompted, choose whether you want to begin automatic import of your files the next time you plug in your camera to the computer.
  • On completion of the import process, you will be presented with all imported files in the GoPro App.
  • If you do not want to plug in the camera to the computer, you can instead import using your SD card connected to a card reader, which is attached to the computer.

GoPro underwater video Filter

  • You may also want to use a magenta or red filter when shooting with a GoPro underwater. The Red filter is great for bringing the reds back into the blue water, which has a tendency to suck out the longer wavelengths from the light.
  • Magenta filters also add reds to the scene but are recommended for green waters.
  • You can also do away with the filters and colour-correct your footage later during editing. Consider changing the colours of the footage on a colour wheel to balance the reds, greens, and blues.
  • You can also make adjustments to the white balance during editing. This can correct errors made during the shooting phase or enhance the overall appeal of your footage.

GoPro underwater video colour correction

Colour correction can really make your video stand out. Underwater footage tends to be bluish in appearance, lacking red hues. You can correct this during editing with a process called colour correction.

This essentially involves manipulating the colour channels of your video on a colour wheel, manipulating the saturation and hues, brightness, and contrast, etc in a video editing or colour correction software. The creative freedom is simply endless!

Why are my videos blurry?

This has happened to all of us. You return after a great dive only to discover that your footage has been blurry!

Well, it is good to shoot your subject from as close as possible when shooting underwater, however, remember to keep the subject at the minimum focusing distance of the camera or more. For GoPros, the focusing distance is about 12 inches.

What are the best GoPro accessories for underwater video?

The Super Suit is an underwater housing built for the GoPro HERO5. It uses polycarbonate and features a scratch-proof glass lens that makes it possible to film sharp videos under water, making it ideal for scuba diving use.

With the Super Suit on, the GoPro can be taken to greater depths underwater.

Best underwater video light for GoPro

Lighting can dramatically transform the look and feel of your underwater video. Video lights are highly recommended for use underwater since they add colours to your footage, which can otherwise turn all-bluish. You can either use a dual light or a video flood light depending on your budget and purpose of use. Remember that the best underwater video lights are the brightest- they deliver a powerful flood of light that can bring back the magic into your shots.

Happy GoPro underwater shooting!

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